Elation KM901 vs. Neumann TLM193, Neumann TLM103

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Bill Roberts

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Oct 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/11/99
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The results are in on the KM901 vs Neumann TLM193 and TLM103
shootout.

I should first point out that while I have enjoyed excellent
service from the Sound Room, I have never hyped the Russian mics.
In fact you will find posts by me stating plainly that the MC319
was beaten by the TLM193, though it was still a good mic, and that
its switchgear was "agricultural." Hardly brochure terminology.
I also recently described the MC012 simply as being "in the same
league" as the SM81, and suggested I might prefer the SM81 for some
things though I generally preferred the MC012, while others described
the MC012 as greatly superior. Again, no hype on my part.

OK. Enough preface. Here are the results:

The Elation KM901 slaughtered the TLM193. Dead. Bloodbath.

This was a blind test: all I knew was "red mic cable" or "blue
mic cable." I was surprised that my Neumann (surely the red one
had to be the Neumann) was sounding so fine: it sounded very
nearly as good as recordings on the VTL label using the Manley Gold
Stereo Reference with the all-amplification-in-mic,transformless mod.
I mean, wow.

I had lent the TLM193 to Elizabeth for recording her own material and
had been away from it for some time, so I attributed the amazing
improvement to my forgetting how good it was.

And that other mic, "obviously" the Elation... what a P.O.S. by
comparison. Sounded like it had a windscreen on it, and I hate
windscreens. A total failure. The red mic had far better clarity,
and somewhat more and much better highs, and msot importantly a
purer sound. I was embarrassed for Elizabeth at how bad the
"Elation" (the blue mic) sounded. What a disappointment.

Uh, the red mic was the Elation!!! The P.O.S. blue mic was
the Neumann.

I couldn't believe it, so we swapped cables and channels on
the Mackie (OK, the test was using a VLZ Pro!). Same story
with everything swapped. It wasn't a bad channel on the mixer.

The TLM103 also got beaten. The Elation again had much better
clarity and purity.

So far as the balance of highs goes, the Elation is about
2/3 of the way towards the TLM103 end of the TLM193-TLM103
spectrum, but doesn't sound hyped at all. It is nearly as
bright as the TLM103, but not quite.

Overall, a stunning performance. Might the TLM193 sound better
on some other source (these were female vocal and also acoustic
guitar) such as kick drum? Maybe but I really doubt it. Bass
cabinet? More likely but don't know. Basically I could see myself
preferring the TLM193 only if for some reason I wanted that
"just not as good" sound. And I don't foresee that happening.
The Neumanns may be for sale...

I cannot comment on ensnareyou's report that the Elation
is not as good as the Neumann TLM170, since I have not heard
that mic.

An absolutely killer performance by the Elation. This is not
even taking into account the fact that it is multipattern.
And yes, the omni pattern also sounds great. (I did not try
figure 8).

-- Bill

Bill Roberts

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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Bill Roberts wrote:

> it sounded very
> nearly as good as recordings on the VTL label using the Manley Gold
> Stereo Reference with the all-amplification-in-mic,transformless mod.
> I mean, wow.

And that's through the Mackie... I wonder if I will be truly
amazed when the Millenia M-2b arrives and I hear it through
that.

Because the above-mentioned Manley is an absolutely Godlike mic
and being within sight of it now (though still behind) is really
remarkable to me...

I still expect to have to buy the Manley someday but if the
Elation through the Millenia closes the gap halfway, I'll be
exceedingly pleased! :)

-- Bill

EnsnareYou

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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About the Elation KM901 microphone wrob...@grove.ufl.edu wrote:

>This was a blind test: all I knew was "red mic cable" or "blue
>mic cable." I was surprised that my Neumann (surely the red one

>had to be the Neumann) was sounding so fine: it sounded very

Since the Mackie pre's aren't really giving you a "true" idea of what your mics
sound like, when you get the Millennia Pre (or any other World Class pre for
that matter) it will change things. Is it going to make the TLM193 and TLM103
whip the pants off the Elation KM901? Likely not as the Elation has a fairly
open and detailed sound to it that the TLM193 certainly lacks and the TLM103 is
somewhat hyped which isn't to my liking but many people prefer. The Elation
KM901 does have a very smooth and even OMNI pattern (quite surprising
actually), and the fact it's a multi-pattern mic for not a lot of money is a
big bonus in my opinion. The build quality of the Elations while easily
rivaling the Oktava's, is once again not on PAR with other well known mic
manufacturers. A testament to Elations pride in the manufacture of their mics
is that the KM901 and KM201 mics do sound very good and they represent the best
mics that Russia has to offer at this time. If Elation continues their
approach and refines their machining and finishing techniques, they'll be a mic
manufacturer to contend with the big 3 (AKG, AT, Neumann) very soon.

However, for you to compare the Elation KM901 to the Manley Gold Reference
(without having one side by side) is a big step in misleading folks as to what
the KM901 sounds like and a slap in the face to Manley. I have an Elation
KM901 and a Manley Gold Reference mic and I wouldn't put the two in the same
league let alone in the same breath. My tests were done through a Manley Mic
500 Mic-pre/EQ and Millennia Mic-pre. If you need me to reaffirm that the
Manley beats the living pants off the KM901 using an API, Neve, Summit,
Telefunken, Peavey VMP-2, Sytek, or Langevin mic-pre I'd be happy to do so as I
have them all here at my disposal.

I'm all for the user reviews posted here on RAP and particularly love reading
them myself, but I feel that many newbies are misled to believe that some of
the cheaper condenser mics are as good if not better than their more expensive
counterparts when a "real world" test against the mics they're supposedly
better than weren't even used in the same evaluation. Please lets not do a
disservice to our friends new to recording industry.

Lee

Bill Roberts

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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EnsnareYou wrote:

> I'm all for the user reviews posted here on RAP and particularly love reading
> them myself, but I feel that many newbies are misled to believe that some of
> the cheaper condenser mics are as good if not better than their more expensive
> counterparts when a "real world" test against the mics they're supposedly
> better than weren't even used in the same evaluation. Please lets not do a
> disservice to our friends new to recording industry.

Also, of course, the only mics that I said the Elation beat
were mics that I owned personally that were right there in
the same room at the same time, same conditions. So the
above rule (which is a very true one) was not violated.

-- Bill

Bill Roberts

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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EnsnareYou wrote:
>
> About the Elation KM901 microphone wrob...@grove.ufl.edu wrote:
>
> >This was a blind test: all I knew was "red mic cable" or "blue
> >mic cable." I was surprised that my Neumann (surely the red one
> >had to be the Neumann) was sounding so fine: it sounded very
> >nearly as good as recordings on the VTL label using the Manley Gold
> >Stereo Reference with the all-amplification-in-mic,transformless mod.
> >I mean, wow.

> However, for you to compare the Elation KM901 to the Manley Gold Reference


> (without having one side by side) is a big step in misleading folks as to what
> the KM901 sounds like and a slap in the face to Manley.

Whoah, whoah, whoah. No slap in the face to Manley. I even
referred elsewhere to the Manley as being a "Godlike mic."
That's a "slap in the face" ?

Of course I can compare them. That is no slap in the face.
I did not say the Elation was as good. It is the nearest
I have heard to the Manley. That's impressive to me.

And of course I can compare without the mic being in the
same room. I have fantastic CD recordings of the Manley and
I stated that it was this to which I was making my comparison.

You are taking offense where none was given.

> I'm all for the user reviews posted here on RAP and particularly love reading
> them myself, but I feel that many newbies are misled to believe that some of
> the cheaper condenser mics are as good if not better than their more expensive
> counterparts when a "real world" test against the mics they're supposedly
> better than weren't even used in the same evaluation. Please lets not do a
> disservice to our friends new to recording industry.

I did not say "as good" as the Manley. I said "very nearly as
good." Now what I call very nearly may be different from what
you have in mind. I did consider the sound genuinely in the same
ballpark. That's very nearly when almost all other stuff is miles
away. The Neumanns for example are miles away from the Manley.

Small differences are big differences, and I am well aware that
going from same-ballpark to truly-equal at that level of
quality is something that is going to cost thousands of
dollars. Never said it was as good as the Manley. Specifically
said it wasn't. Ease up.

-- Bill

Bill Roberts

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
to

EnsnareYou wrote:
> About the Elation KM901 microphone wrob...@grove.ufl.edu wrote:
>
> >This was a blind test: all I knew was "red mic cable" or "blue
> >mic cable." I was surprised that my Neumann (surely the red one
> >had to be the Neumann) was sounding so fine: it sounded very
> >nearly as good as recordings on the VTL label using the Manley Gold
> >Stereo Reference with the all-amplification-in-mic,transformless mod.
> >I mean, wow.
>

> >And that's through the Mackie... I wonder if I will be truly
> >amazed when the Millenia M-2b arrives and I hear it through
> >that.
>
> >Because the above-mentioned Manley is an absolutely Godlike mic
> >and being within sight of it now (though still behind) is really
> >remarkable to me...
>
> >I still expect to have to buy the Manley someday but if the
> >Elation through the Millenia closes the gap halfway, I'll be
> >exceedingly pleased! :)

Hmmm, that does not sound to me like I was saying the Manley
is no better than the Elation, or was "slapping Manley in the face."
I really don't know where you got that.



> Since the Mackie pre's aren't really giving you a "true" idea of what your mics
> sound like, when you get the Millennia Pre (or any other World Class pre for
> that matter) it will change things. Is it going to make the TLM193 and TLM103
> whip the pants off the Elation KM901? Likely not as the Elation has a fairly
> open and detailed sound to it that the TLM193 certainly lacks and the TLM103 is
> somewhat hyped which isn't to my liking but many people prefer.

You have an excellent point on the preamps. What can I say,
the Millenia hasn't arrived yet. My original plan was also to
test them using the Audio Upgrades preamps available there, but
the beating was so thorough as to make it a moot point, and we
decided to spend time miking acoustic guitar from various positions
in both omni and cardioid, we didn't bother trying the Audio Upgrades
(which I know is still not absolute top quality.) Tomorrow however
the Audio Upgrades will be used.

-- Bill

k_wi...@my-deja.com

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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> > >And that's through the Mackie... I wonder if I will be truly
> > >amazed when the Millenia M-2b arrives and I hear it through
> > >that.
> >

> > Since the Mackie pre's aren't really giving you a "true" idea of


what your mics
> > sound like, when you get the Millennia Pre (or any other World
Class pre for
> > that matter) it will change things.

> You have an excellent point on the preamps. What can I say,


> the Millenia hasn't arrived yet. My original plan was also to
> test them using the Audio Upgrades preamps available there, but
> the beating was so thorough as to make it a moot point, and we
> decided to spend time miking acoustic guitar from various positions
> in both omni and cardioid, we didn't bother trying the Audio Upgrades
> (which I know is still not absolute top quality.) Tomorrow however
> the Audio Upgrades will be used.
>

It's well known that the Mackies don't always bring out the absolute
best in the Neumann mics, for a variety of reasons (this is not to slam
Mackie...) Rather than saying that it's a moot point to re-do the eval
using real preamps, why not go ahead with it once you get the Millenia?
I'm not disputing that the Elation might be a fine microphone. I
haven't hear one yet and would certainly like to. But to dismiss any
microphones after only using them through a small, inexpensive mixer
seems a bit hasty.

I'll guess that the Russian mics employ a transformer. In such a case,
they'll draw a lot less current and present an "easy" source on the
preamps. Neumanns draw more current and therefore require a better
phantom supply than transformer-based mics. They also have a higher
output than many mics, this requiring that there be sufficient headroom
at the input. But the benefits of this approach outweigh the tradeoffs
when a high quality chain is employed. I'd say even Mackie is aware of
this by their introduction of the "XDR" preamps in their latest series
of small mixers.

Respectfully,

Karl Winkler
Neumann/USA


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

corn

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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Oh man. I am drooling at the mouth now to receive my Elation KM201.
Should be here today. I will do a blind test with it against the MC012,
SM81, AKG451 and KM84.

I have a wierd prophectical opinion that Elation will slowly become a
household name in the studio right there next to the Neumann in the next
few years.

wes


Bill Roberts wrote:

> The results are in on the KM901 vs Neumann TLM193 and TLM103
> shootout.
>
> I should first point out that while I have enjoyed excellent
> service from the Sound Room, I have never hyped the Russian mics.
> In fact you will find posts by me stating plainly that the MC319
> was beaten by the TLM193, though it was still a good mic, and that
> its switchgear was "agricultural." Hardly brochure terminology.
> I also recently described the MC012 simply as being "in the same
> league" as the SM81, and suggested I might prefer the SM81 for some
> things though I generally preferred the MC012, while others described
> the MC012 as greatly superior. Again, no hype on my part.
>
> OK. Enough preface. Here are the results:
>
> The Elation KM901 slaughtered the TLM193. Dead. Bloodbath.
>

> This was a blind test: all I knew was "red mic cable" or "blue
> mic cable." I was surprised that my Neumann (surely the red one
> had to be the Neumann) was sounding so fine: it sounded very
> nearly as good as recordings on the VTL label using the Manley Gold
> Stereo Reference with the all-amplification-in-mic,transformless mod.
> I mean, wow.
>

Ty Ford

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
to
In Article <19991012014529...@ng-co1.aol.com>,

ensna...@aol.com (EnsnareYou) wrote:
>I'm all for the user reviews posted here on RAP and particularly love reading
>them myself, but I feel that many newbies are misled to believe that some of
>the cheaper condenser mics are as good if not better than their more expensive
>counterparts when a "real world" test against the mics they're supposedly
>better than weren't even used in the same evaluation. Please lets not do a
>disservice to our friends new to recording industry.
>
>Lee

No disrespect to Robert, but frequently people judge the brightest mic as
the best. The TLM 193, being an evolution of the U 89 has, in my opinion,
always been "dark" when compared to a lot of mics. Brighter ain't
necessarily better. And frequency response alone is only part of the picture.

Robert we do appreciate your efforts. Please tell us which Mackie (Original,
VLZ or VLZ/XDR) you were using. The earlier iterations (preamp and buss) are
known to be hard and bright. The VLZ/XDR less so.

In the end, we all have to live with our choices. The nice thing about being
a reviewer is that I'm not invested in my choices because I haven't "married
the girl" or even "paid for the date."

Regards,

Ty Ford

Ty Ford's equipment reviews and V/O files can be found at
http://www.jagunet.com/~tford

Bill Roberts

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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k_wi...@my-deja.com wrote:

> It's well known that the Mackies don't always bring out the absolute
> best in the Neumann mics, for a variety of reasons (this is not to slam
> Mackie...) Rather than saying that it's a moot point to re-do the eval
> using real preamps, why not go ahead with it once you get the Millenia?
> I'm not disputing that the Elation might be a fine microphone. I
> haven't hear one yet and would certainly like to. But to dismiss any
> microphones after only using them through a small, inexpensive mixer
> seems a bit hasty.
>
> I'll guess that the Russian mics employ a transformer. In such a case,
> they'll draw a lot less current and present an "easy" source on the
> preamps. Neumanns draw more current and therefore require a better
> phantom supply than transformer-based mics. They also have a higher
> output than many mics, this requiring that there be sufficient headroom
> at the input. But the benefits of this approach outweigh the tradeoffs
> when a high quality chain is employed. I'd say even Mackie is aware of
> this by their introduction of the "XDR" preamps in their latest series
> of small mixers.

You have excellent points, Mr Winkler, (as everyone would expect!)
and I agree that I may well have been in error to assume that the
difference might notbe rectified by use of a better preamp than
the Mackie XDR.

Unfortunately Fletcher tells me that it may be a few months
before the Millenia M-2b comes in, so I cannot perform that
test soon. However I will be sure to perform the test using
the Audio Upgrades / dbx preamp as well. I fear however that
it may not be able to address the issues you raise either,
having perhaps similar limitations as the Mackie.

It might well be, and indeed I assume it is, that the Neumann mics
will perform substantially better than I reported for those who have
preamps better than the Mackie XDR. I do recall someone else
reporting an amazing transformation with a particular Neumann
(perhaps the M149?) on going from one excellent transformerless
preamp to another excellent one which had a transformer, and finding
himself very pleased with the latter result. So what I reported
regarding the TLM103 and TLM193 might be relevant only to those
using more modest preamps.

I would like to add also that I have always greatly appreciated your
very informative and always classy posts, and look forward to the
day when I can buy a Neumann M147 Tube! :)

-- Bill

Bill Roberts

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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Ty Ford wrote:
> ensna...@aol.com (EnsnareYou) wrote:

> No disrespect to Robert, but frequently people judge the brightest mic as
> the best. The TLM 193, being an evolution of the U 89 has, in my opinion,
> always been "dark" when compared to a lot of mics. Brighter ain't
> necessarily better. And frequency response alone is only part of the picture.
>
> Robert we do appreciate your efforts. Please tell us which Mackie (Original,
> VLZ or VLZ/XDR) you were using. The earlier iterations (preamp and buss) are
> known to be hard and bright. The VLZ/XDR less so.
>
> In the end, we all have to live with our choices. The nice thing about being
> a reviewer is that I'm not invested in my choices because I haven't "married
> the girl" or even "paid for the date."

If you mean me, not the previous poster (Lee, who had mentioned
using various very nice preamps, though he agreed he was not surprised
at the TLM193 and TLM103 coming in behind the Elation relative to
*those particular* Neumanns) I had in an earlier post mentioned that
my test was using the XDR Mackie preamps.

Mr Winkler has pointed out technical reasons why the Neumann
transformerless mics would be expected to be more disadvantaged
by the Mackie VLZ Pro preamps than the Elation might be.

I am, BTW, definitely not one to judge brighter as being
necessarily better. (And the TLM103 is brighter than the
Elation KM901, by the way.)

-- Bill

Rob Reedijk

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
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Ty Ford (tf...@jagunet.com) wrote:

: No disrespect to Robert, but frequently people judge the brightest mic as
: the best. The TLM 193, being an evolution of the U 89 has, in my opinion,
: always been "dark" when compared to a lot of mics. Brighter ain't
: necessarily better. And frequency response alone is only part of the picture.

It is also a matter of attempting a good match between sound source and
microphone. The U87 and U89 each have their bump in the higher frequencies.
I find, more and more, that my U89 exaggerates the shrillness of female
vocalists. At the same time, I am liking it more and more as an instrument
mic. While I don't own a U87, my limited experience with it suggests that
it would work nicely on many female vocals, but perhaps not as well on
some of the instruments that the U89 compliments well.

Rob R.
Ici Radio Canada.

Bill Roberts

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
to

Yes, I am looking at it from the standpoint of comparing
mics that are overall similar in coloration, or which are
fairly neutral. If a mic has a fair bit of color then I wish
to compare it only to mics with a similar sort of coloration.
There is no validity in comparing mics with quite different
coloration, both of which are quality mics, and proclaiming
one is "better" than the other.

This is why for example I did not compare the Oktava MC319
to the Neumann TLM103. They are too different in coloration
(the Oktava is not nearly as bright.) Nor would I have compared
it to any model of 414. However the TLM193 made a good comparison,
and the Neumann was somewhat better IMO. I compared the
KM901 to both the TLM193 and the TLM103 because its coloration
lay between the two (more towards the TLM103). Again I think
it was a comparison of apples with apples.

Where mics are very similar in coloration but one simply sounds
better than the other (not because of spectral differences) then
one may indeed be called "better" than the other IMO, since in
almost all cases where one might like either mic, it would be the
mic of choice between the two.

-- Bill

Michael Vladimirsky

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Oct 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/12/99
to

Rob Reedijk пишет в сообщении <7u04sq$pai$1...@news1.chem.utoronto.ca> ...

>Ty Ford (tf...@jagunet.com) wrote:
>
>: No disrespect to Robert, but frequently people judge the brightest mic as
>: the best. The TLM 193, being an evolution of the U 89 has, in my opinion,
>: always been "dark" when compared to a lot of mics. Brighter ain't
>: necessarily better. And frequency response alone is only part of the
picture.
>
>It is also a matter of attempting a good match between sound source and
>microphone. The U87 and U89 each have their bump in the higher
frequencies.
>I find, more and more, that my U89 exaggerates the shrillness of female
>vocalists. At the same time, I am liking it more and more as an instrument
>mic. While I don't own a U87, my limited experience with it suggests that
>it would work nicely on many female vocals, but perhaps not as well on
>some of the instruments that the U89 compliments well.
>
>Rob R.
>Ici Radio Canada.

Exactly.
Sound source and mic placement are _much_ more important that the gear used
when auditioning the mics.
After all, believe me, it is not so difficult to compare them microphones
even on tape. Even on a much hated here blackfaced ADAT. Even on a home, non
high-end stereo you will have a chance to understand what is what.
As for Mackie and a live sound... maybe you won't hear the absolute truth,
but that's
because the absolute truth is hard to find anywhere, and you will certainly
understand the mic's character and how those mics present relate to each
other.
Sound sources are other matter. What is good on piano, is often not good at
all on strings. And vice versa.
As for vocals, there is no mic at all that fits all voices.
So, it is a good idea to see how good the mic is for a variety of
instruments.
And how well it captures the hall acoustics. Bright mics are often not great
here.
The test was done in a studio, not in a hall, I know..

Also, I won't agree everybody tends to prefer the brightest one. The loudest
one, that's more like it. Therefore it is very important to adjust the gain
to bring them all to the same volume.
Or switch the channels, what have been done.

Michael Vladimirsky
russian professional microphones
+7(095)1906152

Bill Roberts

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Oct 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/13/99
to

Bill Roberts wrote:

> I would like to add also that I have always greatly appreciated your
> very informative and always classy posts, and look forward to the
> day when I can buy a Neumann M147 Tube! :)

Oops, I meant the M149. Not that I would be in the LEAST
unhappy to be given an M147 also!

-- Bill

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